The first significant study of the working environment and well-being in democratic companies indicates excellent advantages for the employees – and thus also for the companies. The study demonstrates that there is a better mental working environment, significantly fewer prolonged periods of illness, better management, and that the employees receive further training compared to employees in other companies.
Democratic companies cover cooperatives and consumer-owned companies - Amba's -and the ThinkTank Demokratisk Erhverv and some of the country's largest trade unions - 3F, HK, Prosa, DM, and the AKF Foundation - that have carried out the analysis.
- Broadly speaking, employees in democratic companies have a lower risk of long-term illness and experience a better mental working environment than employees in other companies. These are significant findings that indicate that democratic companies can do something when it comes to creating good workplaces, says Magnus Skovrind Pedersen, director of the Democratic Business Think Tank.
The study compares well-being and working environment surveys, sickness benefit calculations, and participation in adult and continuing education in democratic and all other companies in Denmark within a wide range of industries.
The report's extensive register analysis draws on a research collaboration between the think tank Demokratisk Erhverv and the Center for Corporate Governance at CBS.
- We know from Danish and foreign research that well-being and productivity are often higher in employee-owned companies. But these figures indicate that there can also be a positive difference for the employees who work in companies with broad ownership spread over producers, customers, members, or associations, says researcher Thomas Poulsen from Copenhagen Business School.
In most areas covered by the survey, employees in democratic companies fare better than employees in other companies. However, there are certain aspects of the physical working environment where democratic companies lag. This applies to the employees' assessment of how hard the work is and repetitions in the physical work.
But this is offset by the employees' assessment of the safety culture and the significantly fewer long-term sick leave notices in democratic companies:
- If the number of people taking long-term sick leave in all the country's companies had been at the same level as the democratic companies in the years we have studied, there would have been over 20,000 fewer people on sick leave in a year. It cannot be transferred one to one, but it shows that we are talking about real human destinies and socio-economic significance, says Magnus Skovrind Pedersen.